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Hi! I will (and you will too if you want to) talk about a lot of different subjects in my group.

Will wonders never cease?

Posted By Grandpa on Sep 13, 2009 at 1:01PM

Women get a buzz from eco-vibrator

By David Rogers

Green fans are getting a buzz out of a new hand-cranked vibrator that makers say could help save the planet.

The eco-sex toy - dubbed the “Earth Angel” - uses a small wind-up handle to power up rechargeable batteries inside the casing.

It had originally been planned as a sex aid for the Third World where batteries and electricity supplies are unreliable.


But the Irish manufacturers Camden Enterprises have been swamped with interest from Green followers after displaying the vibrator at the Ars Electronica fair in Linz, Upper Austria, this week.

"We wanted to produce an environmentally friendly sex toy that appealed to all consumers regardless of gender, age or ethnicity.

"It has been in its development stage for the past two years and we are excited that our vision has become reality," said a spokesman.

The threats technology and genetic engineering pose to the human race will be the focus of the thirtieth computer-art festival which started last week. The Ars Electronica will run until 8 September.

Terrorists Get Appeals, Obamacare Patients Don’t

Posted By Grandpa on Aug 17, 2009 at 4:03PM

Terrorists Get Appeals, Obamacare Patients Don’t
An unchecked executive tosses Americans into a legal black hole.

By Andrew C. McCarthy

Remember when Congress tried to limit al-Qaeda’s access to our courts? There was hell to pay.

That the nation was at war after a 9/11 was irrelevant. That the complainants at issue made no bones about their desire to kill Americans was beside the point. And no one wanted to hear about how, day after day, these prisoners rioted and attacked the U.S. troops guarding them with the most toxic, disgusting weapons they could produce. All that mattered for Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Rahm Emanuel, Nancy Pelosi, and the Democrats’ amen corner in the media was that the Bush administration and the Republican-controlled Congress had slammed the courthouse door.

But not all the courthouse doors. Congress had actually granted the terrorists an unprecedented right to sue the American people in a U.S. appeals court, and, ultimately, in the Supreme Court. They were simply being cut off from lower-court judges. No matter. Democrats insisted Republicans were “betraying our values.” To deprive these litigants of basic legal rights, we were told, was to run roughshod over constitutional checks and balances. Without federal district judges overseeing the commander-in-chief’s conduct of war, George W. Bush would have an intolerable “blank check.” The people trying to kill us would be lost in a “legal black hole,” an unconscionable violation of the rule of law.

Perusing the Democrats’ proposal to usurp the health-care industry, one-sixth of what used to be known as the private sector, that history rushes back to mind. Pardon me if I can’t help thinking: This sure looks an awful lot like a legal black hole.

#adOne might have thought we’d run out of blank checks for Barack Obama by now. But if “our values” really include judicial oversight, then Obamacare doesn’t have much to do with our values. And this time, the people being stripped of their basic legal rights are not America-hating terrorists. To borrow the left’s nightmare rhetoric, Obamacare is Gitmo for all Americans.

Tucked into several pages of this epic monstrosity (H.R. 3200 is here—if you can get it to load) are various “limitation on review” provisions. They are designed to vest President Obama with unilateral, non-appealable control over available treatments and their costs. That is, Americans will have no recourse to challenge errant or capricious executive-branch decisions in the courts.

For example, let’s say you’re hospitalized for some condition or procedure and are discharged, but you relapse and need to go back to the hospital. Not so fast. Under Democratic health-care reform, the government will be rationing hospital treatment. You will not be readmitted unless Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius (or one of her anonymous minions) has decided enough people suffering the same ailment have been discharged — freeing up whatever HHS, in its infinite wisdom, sees as adequate resources to allow you a second bite at the apple.

To what conditions or procedures does this rule apply? As Duke professor John David Lewis notes, it’s any “condition or procedure selected by the Secretary.” As if that weren’t bad enough: The bill states that “there shall be no administrative or judicial review” of the readmissions measures. It’s the Sebelius way or the highway.

Now, as Professor Lewis is the first to say, he’s not a lawyer or a physician. He’s just a concerned American who has actually read the bill, giving him two legs up on congressional Democrats. The latter are neither as concerned as they were when it was al-Qaeda’s wings being clipped nor of a mind that lawmakers should actually read the laws they make.

As both Lewis and journalist Jamie Dupree report, hospital readmissions are far from the only health-care components from which Democrats would strip court jurisdiction. Americans would be denied judicial review on, for example, payment rates the executive branch sets for doctors and hospitals. Also immune from judicial review are all elements of an experiment in “Accountable Care Organizations.” According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, ACOs are comprehensive health-care delivery systems (i.e., doctors and hospitals) to which HHS would assign “patient populations” in order to cut costs — er, I mean, to ensure high-quality care.

How comfortable should we be with all this unilateral executive-branch control? Well, in the first half-year of the Obama administration we’ve seen — to cite just a few highlights — a Justice Department that won’t prosecute nightstick-wielding Black Panthers caught on videotape intimidating voters (did I mention that one was an official Democratic poll-watcher?); a Homeland Security Department that calls terrorism “man-caused disasters” even as it considers investigating conservatives based on “intelligence” gleaned from crackpot web sites; and a White House staff that thought it would be a good idea to fly Air Force One just a few hundred feet over Ground Zero — sending lower Manhattan into a man-caused frenzy — since it seemed like such a pretty day for a photo op. The Obama administration has us on a trajectory toward $10 trillion in new debt; that “under 8 percent” unemployment they promised if they got their stimulus passed is about to burst through the 10 percent mark; and the four months’ worth of cash they budgeted for clunkers evaporated in a couple of days. From whichever of the 58 states is your vantage point, this hasn’t exactly been a well-oiled machine.

And other than the clunkers, all those mishaps involve things the government actually has some experience running. It has no experience commanding the gargantuan swath of the economy represented by health care. The thought that there won’t be gargantuan mistakes and politically driven caprice if we’re nuts enough to let them do this is, well, nuts.

Moreover, even if this executive branch — or any executive branch — were a paragon of ethics and competence, you’d still want judicial review. We don’t have courts to manage wars or coddle alien enemies. The point of the American judiciary is to protect Americans from the inevitable excesses of a government that is supposed to serve the citizens, not dictate to them.

Which brings us back to the Left and the rule of law. Remember the state of play when Democrats demanded wartime judicial rights for terrorists? Throughout two-plus centuries of warfare, the millions of alien enemy combatants captured by U.S. forces had never had the privilege of access to our courts. Simply to say aloud that wartime enemies had a right to haul into the American people’s courts the government officials waging a war authorized by the American people’s elected representatives was to illustrate the absurdity of the proposition.

It was “obvious,” the Supreme Court had reasoned in 1950, that the Bill of Rights “denies enemy aliens the constitutional immunities of citizens.” That was why “executive power over enemy aliens, undelayed and unhampered by litigation, has been deemed, throughout our history, essential to war-time security.” With evident horror, the justices observed that to give foes trying to vanquish our nation the benefit of our judicial system

would hamper the war effort and bring aid and comfort to the enemy. [Such lawsuits] would diminish the prestige of our commanders, not only with enemies but with wavering neutrals. It would be difficult to devise more effective fettering of a field commander than to allow the very enemies he is ordered to reduce to submission to call him to account in his own civil courts and divert his efforts and attention from the military offensive abroad to the legal defensive at home.

None of that mattered a whit to Barack Obama & Co. When it came to al-Qaeda, nothing but the best would do.

As for you, good luck with HHS.

Conservatives racing ahead in EU parliament voting

Posted By Grandpa on Jun 7, 2009 at 10:18PM

Conservatives racing ahead in EU parliament voting

By CONSTANT BRAND and ROBERT WIELAARD, Associated Press Writers Constant Brand And Robert Wielaard, Associated Press Writers

BRUSSELS – Conservatives raced toward victory in some of Europe's largest economies Sunday as initial results and exit polls showed voters punishing left-leaning parties in European parliament elections in France, Germany and elsewhere.

Some right-leaning parties said the results vindicated their reluctance to spend more on company bailouts and fiscal stimulus amid the global economic crisis.

First projections by the European Union showed center-right parties would have the most seats — between 263 and 273 — in the 736-member parliament. Center-left parties were expected to get between 155 to 165 seats.

Right-leaning governments were ahead of the opposition in Germany, France, Italy and Belgium, while conservative opposition parties were leading in Britain and Spain.

Greece was a notable exception, where the governing conservatives were headed for defeat in the wake of corruption scandals and economic woes.

Germany's Social Democrats headed to their worst showing in a nationwide election since World War II. Four months before Germany holds its own national election, the outcome boosted conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel's hopes of ending the tense left-right "grand coalition" that has led the European Union's most populous nation since 2005.

"We are the force that is acting level-headedly and correctly in this financial and economic crisis," said Volker Kauder, the leader of Merkel's party in the German parliament.

France's Interior Ministry said partial results showed the governing conservatives in the lead, with the Socialists in a distant second and the Europe Ecologie environmentalist party a close third.

French Socialists said their defeat signaled a need to rethink left-wing policies if they are to have any hope of unseating President Nicolas Sarkozy.

An EU estimate showed that only 43 percent of 375 million eligible voters cast ballots in European parliament elections, a record low amid widespread disenchantment with the continentwide legislature.

The EU parliament has evolved over five decades from a consultative legislature to one with the power to vote on or amend two-thirds of all EU laws. Lawmakers get five-year terms and residents vote for lawmakers from their own countries.

Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands and five other EU nations cast ballots over the last three days, while the rest of the 27-nation bloc voted Sunday.

"Tonight is a very difficult evening for Socialists in many nations in Europe," Martin Schulz, the leader of the Socialists in the European Parliament, told party faithful in Brussels via video link from Berlin. "(We will) continue to fight for social democracy in Europe."

Many Socialists ran campaigns that slammed center-right leaders for failing to rein in financial markets and spend enough to stimulate faltering economies.

Graham Watson, leader of the EU's center-right Liberal Democrat grouping, said early results suggested a rejection of the Socialist approach.

"People don't want a return to socialism and that's why the majority here will be a center-right majority," he said.

In Spain, the conservative Popular Party won two more seats than the ruling Socialists — 23 to 21 seats — with over 88 percent of the vote counted.

Exit polls also showed gains for far-right groups and other fringe parties due to record low turnout.

Britain elected its first extreme-right politician to the European Parliament, with the British National Party winning a seat in northern England's Yorkshire and the Humber district.

The far-right party, which does not accept nonwhites as members, was expected to possibly win further seats as more results in Britain were announced.

Lawmakers with Britain's major political parties said the far right's advance was a reflection of anger over immigration issues and the recession that is causing unemployment to soar.

Near-final results showed Austria's main rightist party gaining strongly while the ruling Social Democrats lost substantial ground. The big winner in Austria was the rightist Freedom Party, which more than doubled its strength over the 2004 elections to 13.1 percent of the vote. It campaigned on an anti-Islam platform.

In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders' anti-Islamic party took 17 percent of the country's votes, taking four of 25 seats.

The Hungarian far-right Jobbik party won three of 22 seats, with the main center-right opposition party, Fidesz, capturing 14 seats and the governing Socialists only four.

Jobbik describes itself as Euro-skeptic and anti-immigration and wants police to crack down on petty crimes committed by Gypsies. Critics say the party is racist and anti-Semitic.

Fringe groups could use the EU parliament as a platform for their extreme views but were not expected to affect the assembly's increasingly influential lawmaking on issues ranging from climate change to cell-phone roaming charges.

The parliament can also amend the EU budget — euro120 billion ($170 billion) this year — and approves candidates for the European Commission, the EU administration and the board of the European Central Bank.

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi's Freedom People's Party held a two-digit lead over his main center-left rival in the most recent polling despite a deep recession and a scandal over allegations he had an inappropriate relationship with a young model. Italian results were being released Monday.

In Britain, Prime Minister Gordon Brown was facing a showdown with rebel lawmakers on Monday after the party's expected dismal results in the European parliament and local elections were announced.

Brown has been struggling with the economic crisis and a scandal over lawmakers' expenses. The opposition Conservatives are expected to win the next national election, which must be called by June 2010.

An exit poll in Sweden showed the Pirate Party, which advocates shortening the duration of copyright protection and allowing noncommercial file-sharing, capturing one seat with 7.4 percent of the vote.

Tagged with: conservative trends

Cheney's War on the Democrats (He might be unpopular, but he's winning the debate. )

Posted By Grandpa on May 21, 2009 at 12:04AM

Cheney's War on the Democrats
He might be unpopular, but he's winning the debate.
by Stephen F. Hayes

Well, that settles it. Maureen Dowd thinks Dick Cheney should shut up. Cheney, she writes, is "batty," has "numskull ideas," and "still loves torture."

Just as Jeb Bush and other Republicans are trying to get kinder and gentler, Cheney has popped out of his dungeon, scary organ music blaring, to carry on his nasty campaign of fear and loathing.

Cheney, she concludes, "has replaced Sarah Palin as Rogue Diva."

Oh, snap.

All of this, we are told, is hurting Republicans. "It is very difficult for me to understand how the continued presence of Dick Cheney in the public eye could be helping the Republican Party at all," wrote Joshua Tucker, a professor at New York University, on Politico in response to a question about whether Cheney is helping Democrats or Republicans.

As of late March, Gallup was reporting that Cheney still had phenomenally high negative approval ratings (63 percent) and phenomenally low positive approval ratings (30 percent), which is basically where those marks were a year earlier. For now at least, it seems that the more he talks, the more of a gift it is to the Democratic Party (and Democratic Party fundraisers!), and the harder it will make it for the Republican Party to put its disastrous results in the 2008 elections behind it.

Others on the left, though, want Cheney to keep talking. "As long as he remains the public face of the Republican Party, it will remind voters of why they elected Obama," wrote Darrell West, a vice president at the
Brookings Institution. "Democrats should think about buying national TV time for Cheney whenever he wants it."

If they do, Cheney should accept. He's not only changing the debate about U.S. national security policy, he's winning it.

Since the first days of the Obama administration, Cheney has been publicly warning about the consequences of rolling back Bush administration war on terror policies. "When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry," he said in an interview with Politico, published just two weeks after he left office. He added: "The United States needs to be not so much loved as it needs to be respected. Sometimes, that requires us to take actions that generate controversy. I'm not at all sure that that's what the Obama administration believes."

The Obama administration eagerly engaged him. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has regularly taken shots at the former vice president from the podium. When Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes interviewed Obama for a program that aired March 22, he assumed--correctly--that Obama would be eager to take on Cheney.

STEVE KROFT: One question about Dick Cheney and Guantánamo. I'm sure you want to answer this.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Oh, absolutely.

STEVE KROFT: A week ago Vice President Cheney--said essentially that your willingness to shut down Guantánamo and to change the way prisoners are treated and interrogator--interrogated--was making America weaker and more vulnerable to another attack. And that--the interrogation techniques that were used at Guantánamo were essential in preventing another attack against the United States.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I fundamentally disagree with Dick Cheney. Not surprisingly. You know, I think that--Vice President Cheney has been--at the head of a--movement whose notion is somehow that we can't reconcile our core values, our Constitution, our belief that we don't torture, with our national security interests. I think he's drawing the l--wrong lesson from history. The facts don't bear him out.

This public back-and-forth has continued unabated, and Obama, for all of his personal popularity, finds himself--along with his party--on the defensive. He is in the uncomfortable position of arguing that Cheney is wrong about the "facts" surrounding enhanced interrogation and insisting that those facts be kept from public view. The CIA last week denied Cheney's request to declassify two CIA reports that provide details of some of the intelligence obtained in those interrogations. The agency claims that the memos cannot be released because they are the subject of pending Freedom of Information Act litigation.

Obama could overrule the agency, but he's chosen to hide behind the FOIA technicality. It's hard not to see politics here. On April 16, the White House declassified four Bush-era Justice Department memos that would have almost certainly been covered by the same FOIA restrictions. And on April 22, at the request of Senator Jay Rockefeller, the White House declassified and released a chronology of the Bush interrogation program.

Despite repeated claims that he will run the most transparent administration and his own order that federal agencies consider all FOIA requests with a presumption of disclosure,
Obama has thus far refused to share key documents with the public.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has proved utterly incapable of providing a coherent or consistent narrative of her knowledge of the enhanced interrogation techniques. On Thursday, she accused the CIA of "misleading Congress" on interrogations.

While some of these wounds are self-inflicted, there is little doubt that the constant pressure applied by Cheney is having a significant effect.

Cheney is making arguments that the Bush administration largely avoided throughout the second term. Aside from an occasional, defensive speech about its war on terror policies, the Bush White House allowed its opponents to level harsh attacks with little or no response. Only in the final months of the administration did the White House offer a consistent, unapologetic argument that Bush administration policies, however controversial, were responsible for keeping the country safe in the seven years after the 9/11 attacks.

Equally important is that the views of the American public on national security are much closer to Cheney's than Maureen Dowd's. Democrats have made the assumption that because Cheney is personally unpopular, the policies he has advocated are, too. Obama did not become president because voters supported his positions on national security and the war on terror. They don't.

In a widely overlooked Pew poll on "torture" released late last month, respondents were asked: "Do you think the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information can often be justified, sometimes be justified, rarely be justified, or never be justified?" (Cheney would no doubt object to the wording of the question, insisting that the policies used by the Bush administration were not "torture.") If Cheney is batty because of his views on interrogation, what must Maureen Dowd think of the American public.

A stunning 71 percent of those surveyed said that the use of torture could be justified--with 15 percent saying it is "often" justified, 34 percent saying it is "sometimes" justified, and 22 percent saying it is "rarely" justified. Independents fall decisively in what most journalists might characterize as the "pro-torture" camp. More than three-quarters of independents--77 percent--said that torture could be justified: with 19 percent saying it is "often" justified, 35 percent saying it is "sometimes" justified, and 23 percent saying it is "rarely" justified. The phrasing of the question also likely resulted in underreporting the support for what Cheney calls "enhanced interrogation," since some of the respondents might be hesitant to admit to a random telephone caller that they favor "torture."

Cheney plans to continue his public role as Obama's chief critic on these issues. He will formally appeal the CIA's decision to withhold the memos, and on May 21 he will pop out of his dungeon once again to give a speech that promises to offer his most comprehensive defense yet of Bush administration's war on terror policies.

No word on whether there will be organ music.

Some Reflections in the Times of Hysteria

Posted By Grandpa on Feb 23, 2009 at 2:44PM

February 23rd, 2009 12:52 am (Works and Days)
Some Reflections in the Times of Hysteria
Had anyone said a few months ago that the federal government would step in to provide a trillion dollars to subsidize gasoline—to bring it down to $1.85 a gallon nationwide from prices that were exceeding $4 a gallon—we would have had a national debate. And yet as quietly as the Iraq war cooled down and was ignored, so too we think nothing of the hundreds of billions of dollars saved in reduced energy costs. For the average driver who puts 15,000 miles on his car per year, the annual savings (depending on regional prices, miles per gallon, and the amount and type of miles driven) could reach $1500-2000.
Or contemplate again: What if the Chinese had announced three years ago that in a spirit of good will they would begin buying trillions of US Treasury bond at a .5% interest rather than the 3-5% of the recent past. The result, of course, would be a multi-billion-dollar stimulus for the indebted US economy that would enjoy a temporary reprieve from the cost of its indebtedness. (Remember, in the Carter years T-bills and US bonds were paying out 8-12% and more).

Natural Stimuli
In other words, there are natural stimuli—quite substantial ones—occurring that are lost amid the hysteria of foreclosure. Cheaper energy prices permeate throughout the entire economy from tractor fuel to fertilizers. Cheap foreign capital means renegotiating loans down to near 4% and several hundred dollars per month in savings on one’s mortgage. We are in a recession that has self-remedying qualities rather than justifications for the most radical changes in the economy since the Great Depression.
Haves and sorta have nots
Are we seeing an enormous transference of wealth? Those with capital who lost their stock accounts, and those who sold homes at a loss in some ways subsidized those who walked away from homes and credit card debt, or are renegotiating with the IRS and banks for reduced obligations. The illogical exuberance that resulted in purchase of “things” like televisions, cars, and vacations, financed in some cases by additional second and third (defaulted) mortgages (or 5th and 6th credit cards), was ultimately paid by someone else when the crash occurred—first by the lending agencies themselves, but ultimately (and soon) by the public through higher taxes or decimated retirement accounts, or those average Joes who had securities bundled among real estate debt.
Not Quite a Depression, After all
Another sobering thought. Over 92% of Americans are still at work. Over 90% are still servicing their mortgage debts each month. For these, the “depression” so far doesn’t mean a radical need to reinvent America. They plan to stay in their homes, even if they have negative equity in them; again, loss of equity doesn’t mean catastrophe if they don’t have to sell quickly, refinance, or remodel.
Ditto 401(k)s. If you are retired—terrible. If you are nearing retirement as many of us are—worrisome. But for those under 50, who still put away pre-tax dollars each month, there is a weird sort of solace. I have friends in their 40s who say they won’t pull anything out for a quarter-century, and would prefer to buy stocks and mutual funds now at rock-bottom prices, rather than as was true in 2005 or 2006 at the peak of the market. Quite logical—if the entire market doesn’t go belly up.
Meanwhile, gas, food, cars, houses, and consumer goods fall in price, a tremendous benefit for those still working, and one that translates in a rise in the purchasing power of their incomes.
Postmodern Poverty
And for the less fortunate? Here is southern Fresno County, at ground zero of the illegal immigration explosion, where unemployment reaches 14%, agriculture is in the doldrums and construction and manufacturing fare worse, the depression among the poor is still ambiguous, at least in historical terms.
I went into the local Food 4-Less again the other day, a cut-rate, bulk-buy chain food store. The parking lot was full of late model trucks and cars—not the sort I prefer, but those V-8 monsters, loaded up with high-priced rims, wide tires, custom paint, tinted windows, oversized trailer hitches, the whole American shebang so to speak that tops out at around $40,000. The customers may have been out of work, but I counted nine, just nine, of some 100 (this was a research trip for this blog posting), who did not have one of the following four appurtencies visible—cell phone, Bluetooth, blackberry-like device, I-pod. On the way out of the parking lot, the car radio was blaring with three sorts of ads: get out of credit card debt, get out of mortgage debt, get out of back IRS payments—now! Easy! Little cash upfront! This is not Bleak House as we are led to believe.
We are hurting, but not in 1933 fashion, due both to expanded government entitlements; Chinese-made cheap consumer goods; the fumes of past easy credit; black market, untaxed temporary cash and carry jobs (a vastly underestimated source of enormous income); and a culture that absolves one of the shame of reneging on debt (or perhaps even admires the possibility of a phoenix-like resurgence from loser to winner, and has a grudging admiration for the machinations involved in such rebirth).
I’m not sure this is even the 1979-83 recession where finally we got 10%-plus unemployment, 18% interest, and 12% inflation—a topic I once devoted a book to, Fields Without Dreams. Then I remember seeing Cryolite bags go up 10% every six months. I remember raisin prices going down from $1400 a ton to about $450. I remember vineyard prices falling from $15,000 an acre to $3500. I remember taking out Federal Land Bank loans at 13%, and short-term Bank of America crop loans at 15%. And I remember pickers getting 22 cents a grape tray in 1980—and 11 cents in 1983. I bought a used Pontiac Grand Prix (a fixer-upper that had been totaled) for 12% interest. So, I am sorry. This is not quite yet the early eighties recession, and I am not yet convinced that the baby-boomer generation that has come of age cannot ride this out without adopting European-socialism as a cure.
Thoughts on a Wrecked State

Meanwhile a popular parlor game out here is to argue over what caused California’s mess—an inept Terminator as governor; a wacky state legislature that is the dividend of insanely gerry-mandered districts; refined, out of touch elite environmentalists who sued and blocked everything from agriculture and forestry to oil, natural gas, and nuclear energy production?
Or was it the murderous tax code that, to pay for income redistribution, demands the highest sales and income taxes in the nation, and drives out the best and brightest, while welcoming in the high-school dropout and eighth-grade graduate?
Or was the problem state regulations that make it almost impossible to run profitably a small business in compliance with rules that no one can fathom, and which seem designed only to employ more unproductive state bureaucrats?
Or was it the 4-million plus illegal immigrants who over a span of some 30 years, on average per capita will draw well over $50,000 more in entailments than they contribute in taxes?
Or was the rub a powerful state employee bloc, one that consistently demanded raises not tied to performance, but often well over the rate of inflation? (Indeed, many making over $100,000 got raises this year while the state remains nearly $40 billion in debt).
Or was it the out-of-control unionized, overcrowded prison system, that, after hundreds of law-suits and hundreds of millions in court costs, elevated incarceration into some utopian enterprise?
Or was it, to be candid, the screwed-up, shared California mentality, that wants everything now and in perfection, but has not a clue how to pay for it, or a care about the nebulous distant, but evil “they” who are to provide for it. (And a growing state work force that votes for its own excess, since it rarely sees any more the entrepreneur who once paid for it [and is on his way to Idaho or Nevada]).
I don’t know the precise calculus of failure.
Cry the Beloved State
But I do suggest that one culprit was the state proposition system, our bi-yearly experiment in direct democracy in which for the last three decades we voted in all sorts of unfunded mandates, bonds, borrowing schemes and environmental prohibitions about this and that. And we did all this in a state whose high schools in many regions are only graduating 60% of their students. And of those who do graduate and go to college at the popular state college system, 50% must first take remedial math and English classes.
A half-educated, or indeed illiterate, electorate at the polls, voting for instantaneous entitlement, is, as thinkers as diverse as Aristophanes and Alexis de Tocqueville warn us, a rather dangerous thing indeed. And so it is as we see in our late, great California
We should have a Dantesque sign on freeway 80 as you enter the State:
“Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”

New Kids On The Block t-shirt by Junk Food

Posted By Nikitainthesection on Jun 21, 2008 at 11:53AM


I just want it.
How do you find this vintage New Kids t-shirt?? Like it or not...why??

diesel designer sunglasses 0023

Posted By Nikitainthesection on Apr 15, 2008 at 10:30AM

Simply :love:!!

Tagged with: sunglasses, cool, Diesel

UrbanOutfitters.com > Adidas Grace Mid

Posted By Nikitainthesection on Apr 7, 2008 at 6:02PM

I like these running shoes so bad. Totally end 80's and beginning 90's. Old school, it's remind me of shoes that I could have totally seen in the "Back to the future" movies for sure. So cool! :love:

Tagged with: 1989, 1986, 1988, 1987, adidas, cool, 1992, 1991, 1990, 90's, 80's, shoes